It's rare that you can get this up close and personal with endangered sea turtles, this guy is minutes away from being released into the wild and he looks like he's itching to go.It's all a day's work for the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.These turtles have finished recovering after being accidentally caught around Mississippi--this one was found near Dauphin Island, she will be tracked.
“Is it a turtle that mostly hangs out in Florida, will it or is it a Mississippi turtle that wandered to Alabama, seeing site fidelity and habitat choice,” says sea turtle ecologist Andy Coleman.Each turtle has their own story and history.Most were accidentally caught by boaters.These are Kemp’s Ridley turtles.They’re considered to be the most endangered sea turtle species.They're loaded onto a truck.The turtles need calming on the bumpy ride to the dock.The release gives researchers a lot of data.
“We learn about their movements and what they're doing in the area here specifically,” says Research Assistant Victoria Howard.Next a boat ride to Ship Island and the fun begins.We begin releasing the 14 turtles back into the wild--they seem to want to get as far away from us and the boat as possible.
I even got a chance to drop one in the water myself.
The one with the GPS is called Jamie.The turtle is named after research assistant Jamie Klaus who is about to leave her job at the IMMS. She tells Jamie the turtle “don’t come back” before releasing her into the water.
“We've released them and then they get caught again, we've had a few to do that so we just hope we don't see them again when they get released,” says Klaus.If they're out at sea they're thriving but if they end up back in here something's wrong.To track Jamie the turtle’s progress click here.Researchers say they’ll have Jamie’s data up by Monday 9/9/13.